The songwriters’ art can be an unappreciated one. In years gone by, when albums were the size of laptops, music lovers could be found lounging on sofas, or amidst the poster covered walls of bedrooms, pouring over the lyrics sheet that came with every new LP. The arrival of CDs didn’t put an end to this, just merely reduced the font size, but when digital music arrived there were no words to be found in the downloads (until recently when iTunes LPs sometimes include song words as part of their extra features). So what can you do if you want to learn all ten verses of that world music classic you love, or decipher what the hell Shane McGowan was ever singing about?
iTunes actually has a lyrics section built-in to each song file, but invariably the field is always empty. There are two ways that you can put this right. The first is the manual approach. First off you’ll need to Google the lyrics for the song in question - just the title and word ‘lyrics’ is usually enough - then highlight and copy them. Now open up iTunes, find the track and right click on it (or ctrl+click).
A menu will appear that includes the option ‘Get Info’. Click this and then on the top line of the next panel that appears you should see the option for Lyrics. Select this and then simply paste the words into the empty pane, click OK and you’re done.
The manual approch to adding lyrics - search Google for the lyrics then add them to the Lyrics tab within the Song Info window.
If you only want lyrics for the occasional song, then this method is fine, but repeating these steps for a large music collection would be a task of mythical proportions. Instead we need to enlist the help of an automated service such as Get Lyrical which will do it for us. This app can search for lyrics while you listen to your collection and input them quietly in the background.
(Note: if you get a warning about it being from an unidentified developer you’ll need to hold ctrl down as you launch the installation, this will enable the app to open).
The Get Lyrical interface is a very simple one, with three options available - Tag Selection, Tag Current, and Active Tagging. If you want to do everything at once then highlight the songs and click Tag Selection, which will go through each one in turn. Hitting Tag Current will just do a one off of the song you’re listening to, but our favourite is Active Tagging, which monitors the songs you play in iTunes and automatically adds lyrics to them there and then.
Active Tagging monitors the songs you play in iTunes and automatically adds lyrics to them.
The eyes next to the options show you the lyrics in a little pop up box which can be left on the screen while you do other things, it also updates as each song plays. The last thing to do is sync your iOS device with iTunes, then when you play any of the songs just tap on Now Playing and then on the Artwork to reveal the song lyrics.
Another quick way to get the lyrics of a song you are listening to without searching Google is to use Shazam. When you tag a track in Shazam look for the Lyrics section and tapo on Show More. You can't copy the lyrics into iTunes this way, but its just about the quickest way to get lyrics in an emergency (e.g. when a song you want to sing along to is playing on the radio.)
You can read more iTunes tutorials over in our iTunes topic zone, including:
- How to authorise your computer in iTunes
- How to burn a CD on a Mac using iTunes
- iTunes syncing tips for iPhone users
- Tidy up iTunes by removing duplicate songs
- How to add lyrics to iTunes
- How to sync iPhone to iTunes without erasing the content
- How to move your iTunes library to a new computer or external hard drive